:D WARNING: this might run a little long....I'm going to give you all the details b/c when I was deciding whether to do this or not, I read these types of posts word for word.
We just returned from our cruise wedding on the Celebrity Century on 4/16/07. It was absolutely fantastic and we were thrilled with the results! We were the only couple on board to be married that day, which might have contributed to some of our special treatment and extra attention. From the beginning, I was in touch with Katie and Ginette from TWE (Celebrity Weddings). We booked approximately 6 months in advance. They were very knowledgable and worked hard to offer me ALL possible additional options for the ceremony and reception. This included e-mailing me with brief clips of the ceremony music to see if we liked it and the ceremony itself to help us decide if we wanted to write our own vows or modify the ceremony in any way. I received a wedding contract initially that I filled out and faxed in with my deposit. Towards the end, I received an itemized reciept via email that I reviewed and signed. It had one mistake which they corrected immediately and sent me the revised version. They were less communicative once I had made all of my pertinent decisions about 45days in advance (location, flowers, cake, music, vows, submitted guest list and rooms, reception type) as there was nothing further to discuss. When I wanted something particular, I had to contact them and be proactive, but I found them easy to reach and warm everytime.
Our party of 24 gathered in Miami on Sunday afternoon prior to our embarkation and wedding on Monday morning. We had previously arranged a group booking at a local hotel near the airport and had dinner on Miracle Mile (our hotel shuttled us over for a small fee). The hotel also offered us shuttle to the Port around 9:45am, plenty of time to get to there by the required 10:30am deadline. Our wedding officiant, Augusto, met us at the Port and went over what was to happen. We also had a Wedding Coordinator (Eva) but he said she was new and he did virtually everything for us. When Port officials balked at him taking our party to the front of the line, he shut them down quickly and made certain that we were treated famously. Embarkation was a breeze and we were on board by 11am. He escorted us to our suite, where he went over the ceremony and we did a quick run through with us. My fiance left and I got ready with my MIL, mom and sister. He got ready in his parent's suite with his dad. Some of our guests' rooms were not ready, but they had no trouble getting in and changing. We had 2 non-sailing guests, who came dressed for the wedding and walked around the ship while waiting. The buffet was open at 11am, so it was easy for our guests to access food for the kids in the interim.
Augusto met the groom and guests at Michael's Club for our wedding at 12:45pm and did a brief rehearsal. Michael's Club is a small piano bar, dark wood, tastefully decorated. There were two locations on this ship for a wedding, MC and the Crystal Lounge. I went online and looked at the virtual tours, then requested that the ceremony and reception be held in MC b/c it felt cozier for our small party. They were able to accomodate me since there were no other weddings that day. However, I was in the Crystal Lounge on the ship and it was gorgeous and would've been fine. Then at 1pm they escorted me from our cabin to the ceremony location. The decorations were the standard two white pillars with silk ivory flowers. In all the pictures, they look real and were very tasteful. We chose to go with the standard flowers, ivory roses and fillers. The bouquet was not fancy, but very attractive. It's the same one that is in the brochure. They gave my flower girl real petals, even though we had not purchased them and were planning to use silk ones. I had two junior bridesmaids who used silk flowers. They had situated the seating to create an aisle from the front door to the middle of the room. The lighting was dim, very romantic and appropriate. The music they played was from the speakers in the ceiling and sounded great. Augusto was an excellent officiant and really made the ceremony special. The ceremony was over by 1:30pm.
For the reception, we opted for the canapes and open bar, with one hour of extra open bar. We had the 2hr reception in Michael's Club as well, it was very simple to just move the chairs into small groupings. The guests said that the food was good, I was so busy and excited that I didn't eat. This was a mistake--be sure to eat. Our bartender was excellent, she remembered what everyone was drinking and made superb drinks. We had originally hoped to have a piano player, but at $300/hr decided to save our money. We brought an iPod docking station and played an iPod with songs we had chosen. You can bring your own music player as long as it is battery operated. This is one of the things they don't advertise, but that is more economical. The cake was excellent. We had a champagne toast even though we did not purchase this, I suppose since we had an open bar it was included. Everyone had a wonderful time. Our non-sailing guests had to be off the ship by 3:45, that was no problem. We did have one snafu during our reception, in which the bar's pianist came in and began to tune the piano rather loudly. I looked at the bartender horrified, who went over (with the backup of my brother in law) and kindly asked the pianist to return after 3:30. He was a little sulky about it, but he left immediately.
Our photographer, Gilbert, was also great. He stayed much longer than anticipated. He took a few photos prior to the ceremony, some during, and several during the reception. He took a few around the ship, but we cut that short as people were really staring at us and we were a bit uncomfortable. He did wait until our last evening on the ship to show us the pictures, but was right there waiting for us when we asked. We thought the pictures were very good. By the way, the cruise was awesome!
I will say that if you are a control freak or someone who needs to see everything in advance, a cruise wedding might not be the right choice for you. I was mildly worried that it would look a little cheesy or cheap, and was happy to find that everything was elegant and very tasteful. I just did not have time to plan all the in's and out's of a wedding and needed a stress-free, fun option and got just what I wanted.